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My Christmas wish list for the property sector – Phillips

by: John Phillips, national operations director, Just Mortgages
  • 06/12/2019
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My Christmas wish list for the property sector – Phillips
The election campaign is in swing and it’s a good time to consider how we want newly-elected MPs and the government they will form to help the property sector to flourish.

 

With the election falling so close to Christmas there’s a danger of this becoming more like a letter to Santa. So what’s on my festive wish list? 

First up, Brexit. The hokey-cokey performed by politicians over the last three-and-a-half years has cast a cloud of uncertainty over the market. Buyers, vendors, developers and lenders all have good reason to be wary of making big commitments when it’s not clear what the market will look like in six months’ time, let alone over a typical fixed-rate term. 

 

End uncertainty

So top of my Christmas list for MPs is to get Brexit done – something their predecessors have manifestly failed to do.  

For various reasons it looks likely there will be a high proportion of new MPs, which may help sweep away the cobwebs.  

Nonetheless, the overall parliamentary arithmetic will still probably be very tight, in which case it’s going to be hard for any government to get the job done. 

 

Plan for homes

Next up, planning. There have been promises from all sides about how they’re going to get more houses built but in practice they’ve often shied away from the necessary action to make it happen.  

National and local politicians have to share the blame on this one but since local councillors are often also the ground troops for prospective MPs’ campaigns – knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and so on – it’s difficult for parliamentary candidates to go against the grain. 

 

Scrap Stamp Duty 

Last but not least, tax. There was all sorts of talk before Boris Johnson became Prime Minister of how he would reform Stamp Duty. But calling the election meant that the Budget scheduled for 6 November was cancelled. 

It’s hard to see any government scrapping Stamp Duty altogether – it is worth nearly £12bn to the Exchequer, and you can pay a lot of teachers, nurses and police officers with that sort of money.  

That said, it is about £4bn less than the Treasury had hoped to be raising, which reflects disappointing transaction volumes, something that Stamp Duty itself is a cause of, especially at the higher end of the market. 

It could be that lower rates of tax, combined with action on Brexit and planning, could help drive a revival in sales.

That really would be a case of Christmas coming early.

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